Peak 1,020ft P300
Peak 1,348ft
Rose Hill 2x P300 CC / NN
Vallejo Heights
Mare Island Hill

May 26, 2024
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX
Peak 1,020ft previously attempted Jan 3, 2022
Rose Hill previously climbed Apr 9, 2012

I awoke around 5:45a at home and had some trouble getting back to sleep. My wife was in Columbus, OH for volleyball reffing and I didn't have any plans to occupy myself until she came home later that evening. I thought maybe I should get up and go do some hiking, but really wanted to sleep more. I rolled around for about 20min, unable to fall back asleep, finally deciding to get up and go find something to do. About 10min at the computer was all I needed to formulate a plan to revisit Peak 1,020ft, a private property summit I'd failed at two years earlier. I also found a few other things to do in the general area, to make the hour-long drive worthwhile. I had a quick breakfast, jumped in the Miata, and headed to Contra Costa County.

Peak 1,020ft

This summit lies in the ranching hills west of Pittsburg. The TRs on PB all describe using a route from the northeast, starting at the end of Shadybrook Ct. A gated road leads to a water tank above the neighborhood. Where the road bends to the left, a locked but unsigned gate provides access to a little-used ranch road. This can be followed up to the summit crest in a few switchbacks, then a direct line to the summit to the southwest. There are two ranch gates on the summit ridge with solar-powered electric gates. Best not to go over the gates while possibly damaging the mechanism, but rather over or through the adjacent barb-wire fencing. The roadway past the second gate had been recently graded, and looks to see some traffic. The grasses have mostly turned brown, so not as scenic as a month ago, but still nice views. The actual summit is a short distance off the ranch roads. A little over half an hour for the roundtrip effort.

Peak 1,348ft - Rose Hill

These summits are located in Black Diamond Mines Regional Park. I'd been here 12 years ago visiting Rose Hill and another summit in the park, but had neglected the soft-ranked Peak 1,348ft about 3/4mi west of Rose Hill. The area is the site of coal-mining activity from 100 years ago, the largest in the state at the time, but all is quiet now. Most of the buildings have long been removed, now just some gray-colored tailings remaining. I parked at the end of Somersville Rd and hiked the two summits in turn. At the old Somersville townsite, I turned to followed a well-graded road west over a saddle south of Rose Hill and then down to the Kirker Creek drainage, which separates the two peaks. There is no trail to Peak 1,348ft and it makes for a pretty steep cross-country climb up grassy slopes from the east. My boots and socks collected an uncomfortable number of stickers - this would be more pleasant when the hills are still green. The slope relents as one gains the East Ridge halfway up, which is then followed to the summit. The top is open in all directions, taking in much of the county, south to Mt. Diablo, and north to the confluence of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers into Suisun Bay. Back down to the trail system, I paused for a good 15 minutes to remove all the stickers in my boots and socks, quite the chore. On my way back to the TH, I paused at the saddle and decided to revisit Rose Hill since it was "right there." Though steep, it also has a decent use trail going up its South Ridge, which made the idea more palatable - no stickers on this one. Twelve minutes saw me to the top with views much like the first summit. Back again to the trail system, I made a last detour to visit the Rose Hill Cemetery, mostly mining accident victims and other townsfolk that used to populate the collection of small towns in the hills here. I spent about two and a quarter hours for the pair of summits.

Vallejo Heights

These next two summits are located across the Carquinez Strait in Vallejo, at the southwest end of Solano County. Vallejo Heights is an old hilly neighborhood on the northwest side of Vallejo. There are two closed contours of equal height on the topo map vying for the highpoint. The northern point had a benchmark at one time and is the one selected by LoJ. A row of houses sits here and appears to have been leveled some. The southern point appears higher to me (though no instruments were used), and it is certainly more aesthetic as there is a small public park located there. The single parking space dedicated to the park is the highest point.

Mare Island Hill

Mare Island was the site of a naval shipyard that operated for more than a century before shutting down in 1996. There are many old buildings on the northeast side where the shipbuilding took place, now in the long stages of decay. The USDA Forest Service has a large campus on the Island as does Touro University, both efforts at repurposing. The surrounding hills at the south end of the island were once part of a nine hole golf course established in 1892, possibly the oldest course west of the Mississippi River. Other parts of the hills were dedicated to underground munitions bunkers. The After Mare Island was turned over to the City of Vallejo, the city added an additional nine holes in 2000-01, but it was eventually closed when it was unable to turn a profit. The land was sold to developers for potential residential development, but this never materialized and it became the Mare Island Preserve, open Fridays thru Sundays - it was by complete chance that it happen to be Sunday on my visit. Noting there is a road to the summit, I tried to get Google Maps to direct me to the highpoint. This was a mistake, as it tried to direct me around the southwest side of the island which is now closed to vehicles, with portions slated for residential development. The preserve parking is north of the summit, near the old naval cemetery. I walked the two-mile circuit used by others in the PB reports. The hike was along an odd assortment of old pavement, use trails, and cement golf paths. Though the wild grasses are mowed periodically, the whole place looks neglected. Seems like its mostly a bother for anyone to make their way out to this corner of the Bay, though the views are quite good. The benchmark is found at the northeast of two closed contours, but the southwestern one seemed clearly higher. There is a telecom tower just west of the SW point. Just south of the other point is a sculpture called the Spirit Ship, dedicated in 1996 when the naval yard closed. On an aluminum skeleton of a ship are placed metal tags with the names of all the ships layed down there. The tags chime when the wind picks up, but all was still on my visit. In his 2021 report, Andrew Kirmse mentions that the cemetery at the base of the hill was abandoned, but I found that not exactly the case. For Memorial Day, they have placed small American flags on each grave, same as I've seen at other VA cemeterys on this day. I finished up back in the parking lot by 1p, about an hour for the visit at a leisurely pace.

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